The State of Resistance: Popular Struggles in the Global South

The Defence of Humanity Requires the Radicalisation of Popular Struggles
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Broadly these were the:. The colonialists, by oppressing Africans on the basis of race, unwittingly strengthened nationalist ideas and increased the unity of the independence movement with the working class playing a leading role in this struggle in many African countries. The s witnessed a major outbreak of industrial action. In , for example, the first general strike in Nigerian history paralysed the colonial machine for six weeks. In Senegal the extraordinary railway strike of was a major factor in the birth of the nationalist movement. The achievement of political independence, while a tremendous step forward, did not lead to qualitatively different lives for the majority of people.

Nationalist rather than socialist ideas dominated in practice and the intelligentsia rather than the working class gained state power. Made up of students, graduates and junior members of the colonial bureaucracy, the intelligentsia went on to introduce a top-down state-led model of development inspired by rapid industrialisation in the Soviet Union in the late s and s.

In many countries the autonomy of labour movements was rapidly eroded after independence. In what became Tanzania, for example, the government of Julius Nyerere created the National Union of Tanganyika Workers as the sole legal representative of workers and banned independent unions and all strikes.

In the first decade or two of independence, education and other aspects of public infrastructure were greatly expanded. But the state-led economic development model then fell apart. The rise in oil prices in the s, the collapse in commodity prices and the increase in interest rates at the end of the decade led to the public debt crisis.

The State of Resistance

This gave the leverage to the IMF and World Bank to introduce Structural Adjustment Programmes SAPs which included what have become the basic tenets of neoliberalism: privatisation, deregulation, opening economies to foreign competition and crucially, in many cases, the reduction and eventual elimination of subsidies. The result was a period of increased social unrest that began in Egypt in The rise in food and gasoline prices provoked fierce rioting in major cities across the country.

Under the auspices of SAPs, universities often suffered major funding cuts, and students frequently organised the first protests. These brought the urban poor onto the streets, often informally led by the working class; street protests were often supplemented by strike action, sometimes organised by trade union leaders but more usually initiated by rank and file union members. These were not simply just food riots or anti-IMF riots, but were organised and had specific objectives.

African political leaders who at independence claimed to be liberators of their peoples ultimately became responsible for suppressing these movements. Partly as a result, but also inspired by the political revolutions in Eastern Europe and the fall of the Berlin Wall in , Africa exploded in a convulsion of pro-democracy revolts that saw 86 major protest movements across 30 countries in alone.

The pro-democracy movements were in many respects similar to the previous generation of nationalist movements that came together to achieve independence from the colonial powers. As a result, there were no clear political alternatives to neoliberalism and so government economic policies did not necessarily change significantly, even where the previous governments had been successfully overthrown.

Across Africa the new democratic governments that came to power in the early s implemented, to a greater or lesser extent, programmes of economic liberalisation. This was despite the fact that protests against structural adjustment programmes had played an important part in weakening the hegemony of their undemocratic predecessors. Thus the book provides important background information on these two countries which remain deeply problematic. Finally, the insurgencies of the Brasilian, Portuguese and South African precariats resist the kinds of commodification that threaten their subsistence and their social rights through forms of collective consciousness very different from that of the Fordist working class, fundamentally shaped by the collective negotiation of wages and labour conditions.

Here, perhaps, resides the main lesson left by E. By highlighting the importance of the political praxis of the precariat in the current cycle of social insurgencies at global level, I hope to have captured this transitory moment in which the class struggle becomes more central every day, in spite of the dismantling of the working class in the previous period.

Emerging in the place of the latter are social groups of poor workers and middle-class sectors of society, especially the younger population, more or less permanently shifting between increased economic exploitation and the threat of social exclusion. Hence the contemporary relevance of E. Indeed, it does not amount to a working class politics in any traditional sense. However, it is necessary to recognise that the current antagonisms have evolved, amid dialectical polarities and reconciliations, within a field of social forces that oscillates between traditional forms of organisation of subalterns and new movements that are distant from a well-defined class identity.

Still or perhaps, consequently , it is possible to make out a certain revival of popular and rebellious political culture stoking plebeian insurgencies in many national contexts. The actions of the crowd suggest a complex model of popular uprisings, combining organisational discipline, behaviours inspired by the past, and protective demands. At the same time, we must acknowledge that this is still a lingering classist experience that both shapes and is shaped by neoliberal hegemony.

Notably inorganic, the political agency of the subaltern classes evolves through an amalgam of social practices that gives voice to new categories through old ways of thinking. The language characteristic of this plebeian culture often wavers between trust inspired by direct action and disbelief in any kind of more enduring victory against the onslaughts of the dominant classes.

Nor could it be otherwise. This political culture can only flourish within boundaries demarcated by a collapse of trust in traditional forms of Fordist solidarity. Hence its romantic nature: an attempt to legitimise its protest against the post-Fordist dictatorship of finances, which, in turn, is forced to resort to a defence of Fordist regulations.

In addition, in this article the expression Global South will be used as a way of locating the social struggles that occur in semiperipheral regions and countries subject to the policies of dispossession imposed by financial globalization. For more details, see Prashad This number surpassed the year of , setting a new record in the historical series of SAG-Dieese. See Dieese Alexander, Peter. The crisis in South Africa: neoliberalism, financialization and uneven and combined development.

Socialist Register , Baumgarten, Britta.

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Paris: La Fabrique. Boulos, Guilherme. Braga, Ruy. Buhlungu, Sakhela. Burawoy, Michael.

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The State of Resistance: Popular Struggles in the Global South edited by Francois Polet Globalizing Resistance: The State of Struggle edited. The State of Resistance: Popular Struggles in the Global South [Francois Polet] on ykoketomel.ml *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. This indispensable book.

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Desai, Ashwin. We are the poors: community struggles in post-Apartheid South Africa. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Popular Protest and Political Change

Estudos e Pesquisas , Gotz, Norbert. Moral economy: its conceptual history and analytical prospects. Holdt, Karl von et al. The smoke that calls: insurgent citizenship, collective violence and the struggle for a place in the new South Africa - eight case studies of community protest and xenophobic violence.

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Moodie, T. Berkeley: University of California Press. Multitude: war and democracy in the Age of Empire. New York: Penguin Press.

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You can view this on the NLA website. He has been a Researcher at the Centre tricontinental Belgium since , where he edits publications and researches social movements of the South. Regarding the peoples of Europe, the authorities have so far opted for silence. Contemporary globalised capitalism no longer offers an adequate framework for the pursuit of human emancipation. Resistance can also be mapped in various scales ranging from local to national to regional and to global spaces. In many countries the autonomy of labour movements was rapidly eroded after independence. Others need to continue this work so that the clear lessons can be learnt that are necessary to build organisations that can gain a popular following for a more equitable and democratic future.

Mass strikes against austerity in Western Europe: a strategic assessment. Oliveira, Francisco de. Novos Estudos Cebrap , Pochmann, Marcio. Prashad, Vijay.

A history of popular struggle in Africa

The poorer nations: a possible history of the Global South. New York: Verso. Santos, Boaventura de Sousa Saul, John S. Johannesburg: Jacana. Silver, Beverly J. Tese de Doutorado. Universidade de Coimbra.

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Souza, Josias de. Thompson, Edward P. Costumes em comum: estudos sobre a cultura popular tradicional. Barcelona: Editorial Critica. Past and Present , 50, Feb. Nunca houve uma queda de popularidade como a de Dilma.

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O Estado de S. Wolpe, Harold. Capitalism and cheap labour-power in South Africa: from segregation to apartheid. His work is in the area of the sociology of labour with an emphasis on the relation between neoliberalism, precarisation and social movements. His most recent book is A rebeldia do precariado: trabalho e neoliberalismo no Sul global This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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